A non-profit watchdog group in Indiana filed a lawsuit today in state court charging that they have been stonewalled since December on their freedom of information request about the details of the deal to keep hundreds of jobs at a Carrier plant in Indianapolis which were going to be moved to Mexico.
The group, the Citizens Action Coalition of Indiana, or CAC, accused the current Governor, Eric Holcomb, and his staff, or violating the Indiana Access to Public Records Act (a freedom of information statute).
The Carrier deal last December drew national and international attention when President-elect Donald Trump and Vice President-elect Mike Pence, then still technically the governor of Indiana, personally announced a $7 million tax break, and millions in other incentives, to keep 800 manufacturing jobs in Indianapolis.
Things got even more interesting in May when Carrier revealed it was moving most of the jobs that Trump and Pence claimed were saved anyway. Yet they still claimed to be keeping their word because hundreds of white collar and engineering jobs would supposedly be staying in the state.
However, the blue collar manufacturing jobs – those which Trump promised were being saved – were leaving the state.
“The jobs are still leaving,” Robert James, president of United Steelworkers Local 1999 told CNBC. “Nothing has stopped.”
Now the CAC wants the truth about what the state did, the involvement of Trump and Pence, and other details, and they are tired of being stalled.
“The Governor’s Office is stonewalling production of the documents,” Kerwin Olson, executive director of the CAC said in a statement, according to Courthouse News.org, “hiding from the sunlight of transparency which is essential to good government.”
The Governor’s office had complained that the request was not specific enough and cited technicalities for not providing the requested information and documents.
The CAC believes they are just trying to hide the facts behind a deal that has become a huge public relations black eye for the state, Trump and Pence.
Olson charges that their request “easily met APRA’s threshold requirement for reasonable particularity.”
Carrier, which is part of the giant conglomerate United Technologies, has denied it broke its promise. For instance, it said it would invest $16 million to expand within the state. What Carrier fails to mention is that the money won’t go to more jobs but to develop more automation that will permanently eliminate jobs.
This situation is an utter embarrassment for Indiana, as well as the President and Vice President, in that they either misunderstood the deal or were played by Carrier and UTC. Either way, they have lots of reasons to want to hide the truth about this messy situation that has resulted in a loss of the very jobs Trump promised to save.